Downhill running is associated with fiber damage, inflammation, delayed-onset muscle soreness, and various functional deficits. Curcumin, a constituent of the Indian spice turmeric has been investigated for its anti-inflammatory activity and may offset some of the damage and functional deficits associated with downhill running. This study examined the effects of curcumin on inflammation and recovery of running performance following downhill running in mice. Male mice were assigned to downhill placebo (Down-Plac), downhill curcumin (Down-Cur), uphill placebo (Up-Plac), or uphill curcumin (Up-Cur) groups and run on a treadmill at 22 m/min at -14% or +14% grade, for 150 min. At 48 h or 72 h after the up/downhill run, mice (experiment 1) underwent a treadmill performance run to fatigue. Another subset of mice was placed in voluntary activity wheel cages following the up/downhill run (experiment 2) and their voluntary activity (distance, time and peak speed) was recorded. Additional mice (experiment 3) were killed at 24 h and 48 h following the up/downhill run, and the soleus muscle was harvested for analysis of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha), and plasma was collected for creatine kinase analysis. Downhill running decreased both treadmill run time to fatigue (48 h and 72 h) and voluntary activity (24 h) (P < 0.05), and curcumin feedings offset these effects on running performance. Downhill running was also associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines (24 h and 48 h) and creatine kinase (24 h) (P < 0.05) that were blunted by curcumin feedings. These results support the hypothesis that curcumin can reduce inflammation and offset some of the performance deficits associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.